Pasta company Barilla may find itself in trouble with two former customers who are filing a class action lawsuit against the brand over alleged false advertising.
The Italian-owned multinational food company filed a motion to dismiss the putative class-action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which is "granted in part and denied in part," according to a 28-page order.
District Judge Donna M. Ryu on Monday.
Plaintiffs Matthew Sinatro of San Francisco and Jessica Prost of Los Angeles seek to represent a nationwide and California subclass alleging that Barilla America, Inc.
Misled customers into believing that its pasta products were made in Italy and used ingredients from Italy.
Both plaintiffs say they would not have purchased Barilla products from their local grocery stores if they had known that Barilla pasta was made in the United States at manufacturing facilities in Iowa and New York, and that they could have chosen cheaper alternatives.
Prost reportedly purchased two boxes of pasta from the Classic Barilla Blue Box Pasta line in the fall of 2021 for approximately $2 per box.
The plaintiff's complaint argues that "authentic Italian products, including pasta, have a certain prestige and are generally considered to be of higher quality".
Consumers will pay more for pasta that looks or sounds like Italian pasta.
Founded in 1877 as a family-owned pasta store in Parma, Italy, Barilla is still headquartered in Italy and is an international food group.
The company registered the slogan "Italy's #1 Brand of Pasta" as a trademark and printed the phrase on its packaging, along with three small bubbles decorated with the colors of the Italian flag - green, white and red.
The plaintiffs argue that Barilla's slogan, flag-like logo and sourcing of ingredients from non-Italian countries misled customers and caused them to overpay for the company's products, the lawsuit states.
The class action lawsuit was originally filed in June by Catherine Bruce of the Malibu, California-based public interest law firm Clarkson Law Firm.
Although Sinatro and Prost said they only purchased angel hair and pasta boxes from the Classic Barilla Blue Box Pasta line, the class action complaint challenges all 54 of Barilla's pasta products, including the Barilla Whole Grain Pasta line of macaroni Barilla Veggie Pasta line of pasta.
Macaroni from the Barilla Gluten Free Pasta line; and macaroni from the Barilla Collezione Artisanal Pasta line.
Plaintiffs assert five claims for relief, including violations of unfair competition laws, violations of false advertising laws, violations of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, breach of warranty, complaint alleging, and unjust enrichment/restitution.